All formalities and loose ends are expected to be tied by July 31 regarding the closure of the cash-strapped state-owned Radio Saint Lucia (RSL), according to Broadcast Minister Dominic Fedee.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet had said during a budget presentation in May that the closure was imminent and comes as part of government’s move to reduce debt. The prime minister had stated that over $3 million in losses and hundreds of thousands in unpaid taxes had rendered the station unprofitable. In addition, government has provided subventions of over $400,000 annually to the station, which is not enough to absorb losses.
At a pre-cabinet press briefing on July 10, Fedee said the entire situation is expected to be finalised by month-end and the station will be placed into liquidation. It has been reported that June salaries and phone bills have not been paid.
“We are now working very feverishly to regularise that situation so that we can bring the employees, NIC payments up to date because the station has not been making those payments for many, many years,” he said.
On the issue of compensation for employees, Fedee said, “We have to ensure that we do well by the employees as it pertains to their severance. I have had a meeting with them and we’ve had very frank cordial discussions as it pertains to the range of issues but you know, I’ve never believed that when you are dealing with contentious issues like industrial relations that you can get anything solved in the media. I think what it does is it creates that type of opportunity for there to be a misunderstanding between the two sides.”
“Again, I think that I should be talking to the unions and the employees and not to the press about issues. So I think it’s premature for us to have certain discussions,” he told reporters when questioned further.
Fedee promised a comprehensive media statement by July 31, 2017.
RSL was established over 45 years ago. It became a statutory entity in 1975 and was privatised roughly 20 years ago.